Tubigon Mariculture Project

  • Best Practice No 16
  • Thematic Area 4: Fiscal Management and Investment Planning
  • Country of Origin: Philippines
  • Name of Local Government/Municipality: Tubigon
  • Type of Local Government: Municipality
  • Replicated by: Pangkal Pinang, Bangka Island, Indonesia

Short Version

Summary

To better respond to its ecological-economic threats such as low agricultural productivity, destructive and not sustainable fishing, overfishing, coastal pollution and lack of viable employment opportunities, Tubigon implemented a comprehensive mariculture project that targeted both – the local government but also the poor fisheries as the final beneficiaries. The mariculture project had three main components: environmental management and protection, livelihood and employment generation, and local economic development promotion. These components, on the other hand, were closely linked to the overall development of a coastal resource management (CRM) program.

The strategic aspects of this initiative were as follows:

  • building and improving the institutional capacities of Tubigon Municipality;
  • raising sustainable awareness on CRM at community level;
  • developing seafarming projects for different member of seafolk associations as alternative source of livelihood.

A study by Santos, Pader and dela Torre (2003) revealed that the Tubigon CRM endeavour led to the following results:

  • There was a dramatic reduction in illegal fishing practices, and people shifted to sustainable forms of fishing, while becoming members of bantay dagat (baywatch) teams. Dynamite fishing, using cyanide in collecting tropical fishes and the use of tubli are only confined to a few areas;
  • The local government became more responsive in delivering services related to CRM. For example, the local government unit (LGU) acts as a facilitator of various CRM initiatives in the area;
  • Incomes of some fishers have also diversified—with them engaging in fishing and non-fishing related activities as income sources;
  • Increased awareness of people’s participation in coastal resource management;
  • Willingness of the community through the Fisherfolk Associations (FA) to participate in the project proved to be the most essential component in its implementation;
  • The institutionalization of the project systems and linkages helped achieved a holistic and a wider stakeholder perspective from the community up to the national level agencies that became involved in the project.  

This Best Practice was supported by the Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS).

Background and Objectives

Tubigon is a first-class municipality in the province of Bohol in the Philippines’ Central Visayas region. This was a significant improvement from its fourth class status prior to the implementation of the project.  This municipality is the nearest seaport heading to Cebu province on the northwest part of Bohol. According to the 2007 Census, Tubigon has 44,434 residents. The name of the town means “place bounding in water,” and it is not surprising that the town’s seaport is the second largest and busiest in Bohol. Tubigon is well known for its crabs, called lambay. The partnership between LOGODEF and Tubigon began in 1997, when the two institutions got a grant from the European Commission (EC) to implement a project on poverty alleviation and sustainable coastal resources management through mariculture sea farming-microenterprises.

A.   Innovative Elements

With the assistance of the Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Tubigon implemented a mariculture project that includes capability-building activities for the local government. While the municipality has a potentially productive natural ecosystem, there was a need to considerably manage the area. This is because of ecological-economic threats, such as low agricultural productivity, destructive fishing, overfishing, coastal pollution, and lack of viable employment opportunities. Fisherfolk in the town also depend on non-sustainable fishing practices (Logodef and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), 2001).

This mariculture project targeted 200 fisherfolk as beneficiaries.  It has three main components: environmental management and protection, livelihood and employment generation, and local economic development promotion. These components, on the other hand, are closely linked to the overall development of a coastal resource management (CRM) program.

Essentially, the elements of the coastal resource management (CRM) are:

  • Coastal aquaculture.
  • Municipal Regulation governing the construction and operation of a fish cage.
  • Registration of fish hatcheries and private fishponds.
  • Coastal and aquatic pollution, where polluters caught by authorities will be responsible in cleaning up the area they affected.
  • Maintenance of water quality and cleanliness.
  • Navigational route, which is designated to allow ferries and other fishing crafts to ply the Bay.

This municipal-wide, systemic approach to mariculture has led to the increasing allocation of local government budgets for CRM. This effort has led to the municipality being able to access grant support from Reef Check for a total of US$50,568 grant from the US-based National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.  The municipality also provided a counterpart totalling US$105,610 in an effort to rehabilitate depleted fish populations (NFWF, 2006, in www.nfwf.org). The Tubigon CRM endeavour has been cited as a best practice by organizations, such as One Ocean, the United States Agency for International Development, among others. Tubigon has also been made a study site for other CRM activities by various groups (Santos, Pader and dela Torre, 2003).

A study by Santos, Pader and dela Torre (2003) revealed that the Tubigon CRM endeavour led to the following results:

  1. There was a dramatic reduction in illegal fishing practices, and people shifted to sustainable forms of fishing, while becoming members of bantay dagat (baywatch) teams. Dynamite fishing, using cyanide in collecting tropical fishes and the use of tubli are only confined to a few areas.
  2. The local government became more responsive in delivering services related to CRM. For example, the local government unit (LGU) acts as a facilitator of various CRM initiatives in the area.
  3. Incomes of some fishers have also diversified—with them engaging in fishing and non-fishing related activities as income sources. This diversification led to additional incomes for fisher folk, especially since many of them are poor. In some island villages, some fisherfolk are constructing concrete houses. There is also an estimate that aquaculture projects in Tubigon bring in a net total extra income of P2 million annually. While the amount may be small, there is a “big room for expansion,” according to the study authors.
  4. Fishermen have become more confident in articulating their needs and representing their interests before other stakeholders. This is a major result of the creation of the municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC), where 11 of the 17 seats are for fisherfolk.

B.   Involvement and Activities

LOGODEF, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Tubigon, the co-project holders of the EU-funded mariculture project, set up an organizational structure that, in essence, sees inter-sectoral cooperation within the municipality. Basically, the project’s co-operators include: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), LOGODEF, Tubigon’s mayor, legislative council (Sangguniang Bayan), Municipal Planning and Development Officer, Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Officer, Municipal Agriculture Officer, and the Coastal Resource Management Section of the Office of the Municipal Agricultural Office. Technical staff were also hired for the project. Meanwhile, beneficiaries, such as fishermen’s associations and individual fisherfolk, got material and financial assistance (including loans) from the project.

The project also had other co-operators, such as Feed the Children Philippines, Haribon Foundation, the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), all non-government organizations, the Coastal Resource Management project under the national headquarters of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the provincial government of Bohol.

The fisherfolk have been organized into associations.

This endeavour was followed up by:

  • Secondary data collection (e.g. national and local laws related to coastal resource management; scientific documents, such as socio-economic profiles, coral reefs assessment, and water quality assessment).
  • Participatory resource coastal assessment (PRCA) or simply a resource assessment of Tubigon’s coastal municipalities.
  • Formulation of coastal resource management (CRM) plan.
  • Information, education and communication campaign.

The following activities were further implemented:

  • Organizing a nationally-mandated advisory body called the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC), with the mariculture project as one of the major agenda of the FARMC of Tubigon.
  • Curbing illegal fishing in the municipality through law enforcement activities, such as hiring of coastal policemen (who are under the budget of the municipality), and the arrest of small-scale and commercial purse seines and ring-net boats from neighbouring provinces: Cebu and Negros Oriental.
  • Zoning of the coastal area by identifying areas within Tubigon Bay that are under zones such as: protected area zone, ecotourism zone, rehabilitation zone, National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPA) zone, trade and navigation zone, and sustainable area zone.

C.   Sustainability and Replication

Tubigon’s experience in mariculture/aquaculture and CRM provides four key lessons:

  1. Sustainable aquaculture practices should be part of a coherent wider program of intervention in CRM.
  2. Participation of resource users in the entire endeavour is key, along with partnerships with relevant organizations.
  3. Adequate social preparation and technical support help ensure CRM activities’ success.
  4. CRM programs should invest in embedding a culture of responsible resource governance (resource governance to cover the sets of rules and norms and punishments that all stakeholders share).

The comments shared by the study speak of how the local government of Tubigon has handled the entire effort: “Whatever it is that makes the Tubigon LGU click in terms of implementing programs, [fisherfolk]…are united in the perception that it is a government that they can depend on and make suggestions to. The programs implemented in the area would have not been successful if the local government did not support them” (Santos, Pader and dela Torre, 2003). To address sustainability issues beyond current funding, the Tubigon government, the Bohol provincial government, and non-government partners provided financial commitments and technical assistance to these enterprises—for as long as the fisherfolk associations will provide production and labor cost.

The program is highly viable to be replicated. In fact, Tubigon is carefully replicating its experience with the mariculture project in nearby municipalities. The Tubigon LGU has also assumed responsibility for ensuring the continued viability of the seafarming projects through sustained technical assistance, monitoring, and management support.